Watch Out For Google - 5 Ways You Could Waste Your PPC Budget
Many small business owners manage their own accounts, assured by Google ads representatives that creating and managing your own account can be extremely easy. Withing just a few minutes you can set up an ads campaign and start getting clicks to your website. Google will automate most of the process so you don't need to worry about targeting, keywords or any other aspect of account management - just pick your locations and let Google do it's thing.
While all of the above is correct, many small business owners manage their own ads accounts and are still fully unaware or how much better their performance could be. For many businesses who don't exclusively rely on Google Ads for revenue, it is mostly a waste of money. We pulled together a quick guide on what you need to watch out for when setting up your ads account and how Google could be trying to drain your budget
1.Account Set Up. It is super easy to set up your first ads campaign, almost too good to be true. A lot of digital marketers have been talking about how Google tries to skip professional PPC managers or sell their product to business owners as if they don't need any extra help when managing their accounts. In reality, from the moment you set up your ads account, Google is setting you up for failure.
Your brand new account is 'smart', a simplified and automated version of the Google ads account. Make sure you switch your ads account to 'expert mode' when you sign up, this will give you a lot more control over your Google Ads performance. To do this, click 'Switch To Expert Mode' when creating your account.
If you already have a smart account, you should switch to Expert mode. To do this, click the Tools icon in the top right-hand corner and select Switch to Expert Mode. Here is a comparison of a complete smart account performance VS expert mode performance reporting
Smart Account gives you this:
While Expert Mode gives you a granular report, plus much more additional reporting on times of the day, competitor performance and other useful insights on improving your ad performance, reducing cost per click and improving conversions
Reporting is not the only difference between Smart Account and Expert Mode. The way you set up and manage your campaigns is also pretty different. With a Smart Google Ads account, your campaigns are 'smart campaigns', which gives you less control over targeting and optimisation. Smart Account Keyword targeting revolves around keyword themes and looks like this
Expert mode gives you optimal control over what keywords you advertise for - you can still target search phrases revolving around themes, but exclude certain terms, brand names or informational searches or search terms containing words like 'free dog food'.
2. Campaign Settings. Even Expert mode accounts have tricky settings and tiny traps which drain your budget. For instance, location targeting. The tricky part is that you need to click into additional settings to exclude people who are 'interested in your location'. If you skip this step, you are very likely to get clicks from locations beyond your intended geographical targeting.
Another Expert Mode Google ads setting you would like to change is Networks. It is best practice to keep your Display Ads and Search ads separate, otherwise metrics like click through rate, conversion rate and CPC will be skewed.
This goes beyond metrics reporting - search and display networks have a very difference performance and ad formats. Google Search and Shopping ads perform much better than display ads, as they have the highest intent, while display ads are excellent for brand awareness and remarketing. You should assign separate budget and campaign type to each network, to easily track your conversions, costs and interaction rate.
Search partners network is a tricky one - in most industries, it could be a waste of your PPC budget, however we have seen very good results for competitive industries where the CPC over £20.
3.Google Ads Representatives. To skip the rant we will just say that these people are not on your side and they are not as qualified as your ads manager. Their job is to insist you switch to automated bidding strategies and eventually increase your budget or make you spend more. For accounts with unlimited budget, their job is to make sure you get clicks, not conversions, not return on investment nor any other metric that matters to you.
For example, we had a crazy amount of calls for an account with a monthly budget of over £50,000. Google insisted we enable call extensions to get more clicks. While call extensions could be excellent for some businesses, many simply get clicks without even turning into a phone call. We have analysed over 1,000 call extensions and found that only around 20% of those turned into a phone call.
Lead quality for those phone calls wasn't as good as the form submission lead either, as people haven't visited the website and weren't pre-qualified like the rest of the leads. Again, that person's job is to make you spend more on your PPC, not help your business grow, regardless of what they say.
4. Automated Bidding Strategies. Automation is amazing, Google has excellent abilities to learn and manage certain aspects of your ads account, saving you plenty of time and errors. An automated bidding strategy is brilliant if it's right for your goals, set properly and has enough data to work with. The tricky part is choosing the right strategy at the right time.
For example, CPA bidding aims to get you conversions for a certain cost per acquisition, set by you. It works great, however you need to take into consideration your account performance and data, as well as conversion tracking.
Which conversions are included in your reporting, are you tracking multiple conversions such as purchase, lead submission and email sign up? Google would treat those conversions the same, even though they don't have the same value for you. Your account needs to have enough data for Google to figure out how your account performs, so it serves your ads to the right people, who in its opinion are most likely to convert. Usually that is at least 50 conversions in the last 30 days.
When choosing bidding strategies for search campaigns, we would recommend you start with Manual CPC and then move to Enhanced CPC - it's not as simple as 'Maximise clicks' and you would still need to research the cost per click and keep an eye on your performance, but you will have more control over your costs. Manual and Enhanced CPC strategies don't require any previous conversions or account data.
Make sure your have quality copy, fast and responsive website and that you have chosen the right keywords for your campaign. Your CPC will depend on your website performance, ad relevance and quality score, which leads us to our next point
5.Your Metrics. Even experienced PPC managers are prone to focusing on the wrong metrics sometimes. It is important to keep in mind that you optimise for results, whether that is leads or sales. Some tricky metrics are
CTR - High Click Through Rate is reduces the CPC, however clicks don't bring value, conversions do. When optimising ads, focus on Cost/Conv, over clicks.
Cost Per Conversion (lead gen) - Make sure you track lead quality and cost per Acquisition, outside Google Ads
Impressions - For search ads, this metric alone means nothing, unless if you only wanted people to see your ad. Analyse impressions alongside impression share, average position and CTR. Focus on reach and Frequency if your campaign's goal is making people aware of your brand or product.
Clicks - Unless if you are running a brand awareness campaign, clicks with no conversions are a waste of budget, focus on results. Match your clicks to bounce rate, email sign ups and other user actions which could be considered as a conversion for your business.
Quality Score - this is a quality metric for Google, not your business. It measures the value you, as an advertiser, bring to their users. Don't obsess over perfect quality score. A lower bid results in lower average position, which naturally leads to lower CTR and lower conversions and time on site, since the user already saw other ads and at least 5 organic results before they got to your ad.
It is important to remember that Google has excellent algorithms, great AI and offers excellent automated strategies to give you the best results. As long as you follow the tips above and always consider your results first, your PPC ads will perform better than it would if it was left to Google.
Don't forget to check out our other blog posts before launching your first PPC Campaign. New advertisers are also eligible to receive £75 towards their ads spend. You can learn more about Google Ads promotional offers here.